When I was about 10 or 11, I had an affinity for practical jokes. While we usually tend to focus on the “joke” aspect, we shouldn’t discount the practical side of practical jokes. They can actually prove quite useful, I have discovered.
I’m sure everyone has heard of power naps, a short period of sleep that quickly rejuvenates the body – truckers have practiced the concept for years to avoid falling asleep at the wheel. The results are remarkable. Unfortunately, they are only temporary. But, as I learned, the effects can be greatly extended. At the time of this story, I’d never heard of power naps, but apparently my dad had.
My dad, a preacher, and Pastor of a rather small church, also worked a full time job. Typically, his job turned into more than a mere forty hours a week. Combined with the Pastoral duties it meant his workweek was usually pretty long. As you can expect, he operated on little sleep. And from time to time, he needed to catch up in his rest.
One particular day I remember, he was scheduled to speak at a church over 100 miles away – a little more than a 2-hour drive. He got off work shortly before 5 p.m., rushed home and got ready to leave. Deciding to take me along, to help him stay awake, we left the house with only a few minutes to spare. We’d been on the road for just under an hour when my dad started having trouble keeping his eyes open. No, sadly, he didn’t let me drive, although I did offer! Instead, he pulled over to take a short nap. “Wake me up in 15 minutes,” he said.
I said, “Okay.” I already had a plan that I thought should keep him from falling asleep the rest of the trip. Waiting until I was sure he was sleeping, I ran the clock on the dash ahead about an hour. I looked across the car at his watch strapped on his arm, wondering how I’d ever re-set it without disturbing him. Then, I remembered he’d been having trouble with it not keeping time – losing time, in fact. Perfect for my needs so, I left it alone. I did set my own watch to match the clock in the car. This was long before the days of cell phones or the numerous other gadgets we now have to instantly keep us informed of the correct time – we didn’t even have a radio station for him to listen to.
Letting him sleep for the 15 minutes, I suddenly shouted, “Dad! Wake up! We’re late!”
Well, he woke up. Looking at the clock, we were back on the road without wasting a second. It took about five minutes for him to check his watch. I said nothing while he fretted over the time discrepancy between his watch and the clock, wondering which one was right. Then, I did try to help. Showing him my watch, I said, “Mine has the same time as the clock.”
Figuring his watch was dead, he devoted his full attention to the fact we would be late. I waited until we were almost to the church before setting his mind at ease.
Funny thing, later that night, he drove all the way back home without once thinking of stopping for a nap.
These days, I drive past the place we stopped, six times a day. By my last time, I’m usually tired. But just thinking of that incident from 35 years ago always wakes me right up. See? I told you I’d found a way to extend the effects of a power nap!